Boys’ soccer: Shenendehowa rides 12-game win streak into sectionals

PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAEL KELLY
Schuyler Mann of Ballston Spa heads a ball during a game earlier this year against Saratoga Springs. The Scotties are the No. 7 seed in the wide-open Class AA bracket.PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAEL KELLY Schuyler Mann of Ballston Spa heads a ball during a game earlier this year against Saratoga Springs. The Scotties are the No. 7 seed in the wide-open Class AA bracket.

By Michael Kelly

After a recent game, Shenendehowa boys’ soccer head coach Jonathan Bain listed each team he thought could make a run in the Section II Class AA postseason.

When he had concluded, Bain had nearly named the entirety of the Class AA field announced Tuesday when the section released the brackets for this year’s tournaments.

“I think it says a lot about soccer in the Capital Region that there’s so much parity here,” said Bain, whose team was slotted as the No. 2 seed in the Class AA draw.

Bethlehem earned the top seed in the Class AA bracket. Other top seeds for the postseason tournaments are Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Class A), Broadalbin-Perth (Class B), Maple Hill (Class C) and Fort Ann (Class D).

Bain’s Plainsmen are riding a wave of momentum as they enter the playoffs. Since losing Sept. 10 to Bethlehem 1-0, Shenendehowa has won a dozen consecutive games. During that 12-game span, the Plainsmen have allowed four goals.

Shenendehowa played Ballston Spa during the first quarter of its winning streak. The Scotties, Bain said, are one of the best examples of the depth to this year’s Class AA field. After graduating more than 20 players from last year’s team which made it to the state title game, the Scotties finished 8-6-2 in the regular season and are the No. 7 seed in this year’s postseason.

“They’re supposedly in a rebuilding year, but I think they’re strong again,” said Bain, whose Plainsmen needed overtime to defeat Ballston Spa 1-0 earlier this season. “We have a lot of quality programs in the area.”

In the Class AA field, six teams won at least 10 games in the regular season.

“They all could make a run at it,” Bain said.

Tournament play starts today. The Class AA title game will take place Oct. 31 while the other four championships will be decided Oct. 29.

HIT REPEAT

Since the 1996 postseason produced a fresh slate of champions, Section II has crowned at least one repeat winner each year.

This fall, Fort Ann looks like the most likely candidate to keep that streak going. The squad, which has allowed one goal this season, finished the regular season with an unblemished 16-0 record and is the top seed in Class D.

Besides five-time defending champion Fort Ann, other reigning champions with top-four seeds in their respective classifications are Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (No. 1, Class A) and Schalmont (No. 3, Class B.

SPARTAN STRONG

George Dudas views the postseason in the same way as many area coaches.

“It’s survive and move on,” said Dudas, head coach for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

But that’s what the Spartans, who made it to the Class A state semifinals last year, have been doing all season. Shortly before the 2016 campaign got underway, Burnt Hills lost a pair of key midfielders — sophomore Keven Hughes and senior Abed Shahin — to season-ending knee injuries.

“At that point, everything was thrown back into the mixer and we didn’t know what to expect,” Dudas said. “But the one thing this group has done is show a lot of determination, a lot of resolve.”

Burnt Hills started its season with a non-league win against Queensbury and then knocked off Shenendehowa to start what became a 9-5-1 run through the Suburban Council. A number of players stepped up for the Spartans along the way, such as junior Tyler Doherty — a valuable midfielder who broke his right wrist more than a month ago, but never left his team’s lineup.

“He didn’t miss a game,” Dudas said of Doherty. “He went and got his cast put on, and he’s been playing ever since.”

TOP-HEAVY IN “B”

The three programs that have dominated Class B postseason play in recents years are seeded Nos. 1, 2 and 3 for this year’s playoffs.

After Broadalbin-Perth atop the bracket is No. 2 Ichabod Crane and No. 3 Schalmont. Those three teams have combined to win the last five Section II Class B championships, and the 2012 championship match — an Ichabod Crane win over Greenville — is the only final during that span which did not include two of those three teams.

During that five-year stretch, both Broadalbin-Perth (2011) and Ichabod Crane (2012) claimed a state title.

ON THE PROWL

Jon Caraco enters this postseason with a veteran-laden Mayfield squad — and it plays like it.

“I have guys that just make the right decisions,” said Car­aco, the Panthers’ head coach.

Mayfield, which earned the No. 2 seed in the Class C draw, went undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference this season and 14-1-1 overall. Leading the charge this season for the team has been its eight seniors. Five of those seniors are three-year starters.

Senior Brendan Gifford led Mayfield in scoring with 25 goals and four assists during the regular season, but Caraco credited second-leading scorer senior Carter Ivancic for helping provide the Panthers with offensive balance.

“This year, he figured out how to support his speed with more composure,” Caraco said of Ivancic, who scored eight goals and had nine assists. “If you focus on Brendan too much, Carter’s going to hurt you.”

Mayfield has not won a Section II championship since 2004. To win its first area title in more than a decade, the Panthers will need to prevail in one of the area’s most competitive classifications.

“You’d probably need to list eight, nine teams before you’d get to someone you’d be stretching for at all,” Caraco said.

CLASS AA

First round

Friday

14-Troy at 3-Guilderland, 3 p.m.; 12-Schenectady at 5-Shaker, 3 p.m.; 9-CBA at 8-Colonie, 3 p.m.

Saturday

13-Albany at 4-Saratoga Springs, 2 p.m.; 11-Columbia at 6-Niskayuna, 2 p.m.; 10-La Salle Institute at 7-Ballston Spa, 2 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Tuesday

CBA/Colonie at 1-Bethlehem, TBA; La Salle Institute/Ballston Spa at 2-Shenendehowa, 6 p.m.; Remaining winners at higher seed, TBA.

Semifinals

Thursday, Oct. 27

At Colonie, 5 and 7 p.m.

Championship

Monday, Oct. 31

At Colonie, 5 p.m.

CLASS A

Quarterfinals

Thursday

5-Averill Park at 4-Scotia-Glenville, 3 p.m.

Friday

7-South Glens Falls at 2-Queensbury, 3 p.m.; 6-Mohonasen at 3-Albany Academy, 3 p.m.

Semifinals

Wednesday, Oct. 26

At Schuylerville

Averill Park/Scotia-Glenville vs. 1-Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 7 p.m.; Remaining winners, 5 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Oct. 29

At Colonie, 4 p.m.

CLASS B

First Round

Today

16-Catholic Central at 1-Broadalbin-Perth, 7 p.m.; 14-Hoosick Falls at 3-Schalmont, 6 p.m.; 11-Corinth at 6-Glens Falls, 3 p.m.; 9-Tamarac at 8-Cohoes, 3 p.m.

Thursday

15-Watervliet at 2-Ichabod Crane, 7 p.m.; 13-Hudson at 4-Voorheesville, 3 p.m.; 12-Johnstown at 5-Coxsackie-Athens, 3 p.m.; 10-Fonda-Fultonville at 7-Schuylerville, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Friday/Saturday

At higher seed, TBA

Semifinals

Tuesday

At Mohonasen, 5 and 7 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Oct. 29

At Colonie, noon

CLASS C

First round

Today

19-Hoosic Valley at 14-Schoharie, 3 p.m.; 18-Cairo-Durham at 15-Greenwich, 3 p.m.; 17-Middleburgh at 16-Mekeel Christian Academy, 3 p.m.

Second round

Today

12-Berne-Knox-Westerlo at 5-Greenville, 3 p.m.

Thursday

Middleburgh/Mekeel Christian Academy at 1-Maple Hill, 3 p.m.; Cairo-Durham/Greenwich at 2-Mayfield, 7 p.m.; Hoosic Valley/Schoharie at 3-Stillwater, 7 p.m.; 13-Doane Stuart at 4-Lake George, 3 p.m.; 11-Waterford-Halfmoon at 6-Galway, 3 p.m.; 10-Berlin at 7-Cambridge, 3 p.m.;

9-Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons at 8-Mechanicville, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Saturday

At higher seed, TBA

Semifinals

Tuesday

At Schuylerville, 5 and 7 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Oct. 29

At Colonie, 10 a.m.

CLASS D

First round

Today

9-Argyle at 8-Salem, 3 p.m.; 10-Germantown at 7-Northville, 3 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Thursday

6-Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville at 3-Hartford, 3 p.m.; 5-New Lebanon at 4-Loudonville Christian, 3 p.m.

Friday

Argyle/Salem at 1-Fort Ann, 2 p.m.

Germantown/Northville at 2-North Warren, 3 p.m.

Semifinals

Wednesday, Oct. 26

At Mohonasen, 5 and 7 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Oct. 29

At Colonie, 2 p.m.